‘Thrilled to be alive’: Vet home after Antarctic trek
UNSTOPPABLE Gold Coast vet surgeon Geoff Wilson has triumphantly returned home from Antarctica after a record-breaking solo trek of more than 5000km in less than two months.
He touched down at Gold Coast Airport on Wednesday night and was greeted by his wife Sarah, their children Jade, Kitale, Java, son-in-law Simon and his beloved dog Lily.
The Currumbin man spent 58 days tackling the 5306km expedition, enduring oxygen deprivation, hallucinations and temperatures as low as -40 C.
He was forced to trim his dead skin from frostbitten fingers and lost 17kg on the adventure, dubbed The Longest Journey, which began November 9, 2019 after seven years of planning.
Dr Wilson navigated megadunes (huge frozen waves of ice), dangerous crevasses and ice so slippery he could only crawl across.
He made history by completing the longest solo and unsupported journey ever made by a human in a polar region, enabled by Pivotel satellite technology.
Dr Wilson is also the only person to ever summit Dome Argus (unsupported), the highest point on the Antarctic Plateau, the first Australian to reach the Pole of Inaccessibility (unsupported) and the first person to broadcast a live feed from the Antarctic.
He kite-skied and hauled two sleds weighing a combined 200kg.
Dr Wilson finished his trek faster than expected on January 4 and used a satellite phone to contact his Australian-based expedition team, with nearly five weeks' food and fuel left.
"I was thrilled to be alive, overjoyed to be done and waves of relief washed over me as I stood almost stunned in a colourful isolated Russian outpost, the wind screaming through it," he said in a blog post.
"The faith, the prayers, the thoughts have been answered and I'll never forget everyone's support, humbly, thank you all."
Dr Wilson's journey began at Thor's Hammer, near the Russian base Novolazarevskaya (Novo) Station near the Antarctic coast, on November 9.
He travelled for 23 days to reach the Pole of Inaccessibility on the Antarctic Plateau and then reached its summit Dome Argus on day 37.
It took Wilson just three weeks to cover the necessary 2,500km back to base. In one seven day stretch he covered a staggering 1,300km.
"I am deeply honoured to have achieved this record in the footsteps of the world's greatest explorers, all heroes of mine," he said.
"I was also determined to raise funds to support the critical work of the McGrath Foundation's breast care nurses. Every step was in honour of the amazing men and women going through their own solo journey in treatment."
The trip aimed to raise $250,000 for the McGrath Foundation, but the final figure is not yet known.